thepoark's 1701 A.D. (PC) review

Trade and Simulation Ahoy!

Simulation strategy fans of games like Civilization, Port Royale, or even SimCity could spend hours on end perfecting their economies in 1701 A.D.  It's easy to lose track of time as you work to establish a foothold of trade and city development in the name of the Queen in your attempt to gain independence through force or fare from in a early 18th century seafaring setting.

The primary "Continuous Play" mode offers a lot of granular control over the way your game plays: the size of the world, breadth of the islands, richness of resources, down to the purpose of your campaign: gaining immense wealth, developing the largest settlement, constructing the biggest castle, or even just gaining independence from England, plus a number of other choices.  Set your conditions for victory, or have none at all: you decide how long the game lasts and whether or not you can "win". 

There are also Scenario and Playground modes for those that would like a more specific or simplistic approach to the gameplay.   The game offers 10 scenarios that increase in difficulty, providing various challenges from escaping a volcanic island to proving you worth to Ramirez, the infamous pirate captain, in a "Baptism of Fire" to earn the respect of the pirates.  The playground mode offers a simple "practice sandbox" to explore different strategies of city development by allowing you to construct settlements on large islands at no cost or need for economic development.

The game also offers a lucrative multiplayer mode, employing Internet (GameSpy), LAN or direct connection options for up to 2 players (total), which can be very fun and rewarding--an atypical multiplayer "sandbox" experience if you can find a like-minded friend.

Continuous Mode seems to be the main focus of the game, offering epic-length experiences akin to "4X" games (eXpand, eXplore, eXploit and eXterminate), allowing for an open-ended experience.  You will start the game with a single ship loaded with enough supplies to construct a coastal warehouse, forcing you to explore for the perfect starting island filled with just enough space and resources to give you the upper hand.  Alternatively, you can choose to start with just a warehouse on a random island; the Queen of England will grant you a free trade ship once you have developed some of your people into "Settlers", the second tier of citizens (of five tiers).

As you develop your settlement, you’ll find the need to meet the increasing demands of your citizens as they acquire a taste for a better lifestyle, rewarding you in kind with greater tax income.  Work the land to develop trade goods, and employ your ships to embark on trading routes to establish both good relations with other civilizations and gain greater wealth.

1701 A.D. is a highly overlooked game that can provide countless hours of entertainment—well worth the now bargain price given its November 2006 release.  There’s a lot of content to enjoy and the player is given a lot of control over the way it plays, so if you’re a fan of the genre, chances are good that you can craft an experience to your liking.

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